Electric Vehicle Charging Station [The Basics]
People are switching to electric cars because of the convenience, efficiency, better performance, and tariff credits they offer — compared to petrol or diesel cars.
In the United Kingdom (UK) alone, there are currently around 42,000 charge points for EVs.
However, charging EVs isn’t as easy as fuelling up.
So, in today’s article, we’ll help you get familiar with the fundamentals of EV charging so you know what to expect.
Overview of Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Charging stations, also known as charge points, connect an electric car to an energy source to fully charge.
These locations should also follow EV charging regulations to ensure EV drivers have a reliable source of direct current (DC).
Electric car charging points are classified into Levels 1, 2, and 3 DC charging points.
In terms of payment, you pay a yearly or monthly subscription for some public charging points. Meanwhile, others bill you for the electricity only when you charge.
You can find a good interactive map (such as Zap map) online to help you find public EV charging stations near you in the UK.
Benefits of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
The advantages of electric car charging points provide significant insights into the development of the automotive industry. Some benefits they provide are:
Rechargeable EV batteries are convenient because charging stations are slowly being accessible in various locations — not just at your home charging point.
These include public spaces like the supermarket and parking lots.
Unlike fuel filling stations, EV owners can also charge batteries at electric car charging points while doing other activities.
2. Cost Savings
EV owners can save money on fuel costs by using public charging stations. That’s because these typically offer lower rates per unit of energy than petrol or diesel car gasoline.
Some public recharging points in the UK are also free — particularly those sponsored by businesses or government agencies.
The UK has a public charging network for electric cars, so you can easily take advantage of government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles.
An EV Tesla model also comes with free supercharging in the UK.
3. Environmental Impact
The environmental impact of electric car charging service stations is largely positive.
Adopting electric car charging services helps reduce harmful emissions, particularly from transportation.
An electric car’s battery produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is very unlike a petrol or diesel car, which emits significant amounts of pollutants into the air.
Types of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
To charge an electric car, EV owners need to know the different types of stations to choose the right charging point for them. This also helps them plan charging schedules accordingly.
1. Level 1 Chargers
These chargers are the slowest and most basic EV home charging point types.
They provide a slow-power recharging option into a standard 120-volt outlet — with recharge rates typically around 4 to 5 miles of range per hour.
Due to their slow charging process, a level 1 home charger is not recommended for long trips or frequent use, but they are cheaper and easy to use.
2. Level 2 Chargers
Level 2 cables provide a faster and more powerful charge point than a level 1 home charger.
They typically use a 240-volt power supply, which can provide recharging rates of up to 25 miles of range per hour, depending still on your vehicle.
Many businesses, including malls, airports, and hotels, provide level 2 charge points in their car parks to attract electric car owners and customers while they use their services.
A level 2 electric battery charger is also commonly used in public charging points across the world.
3. DC Fast Chargers
A DC rapid charger, or Level 3 charger, is the fastest and most powerful electric car charger.
They use a 480-volt DC power supply to provide charging rates of up to 250 miles of range per hour.
DC Rapid Chargers are recharging networks primarily designed for commercial use in car parks.
They can fully charge an electric car in as little as 30 minutes.
However, due to their high power, price, and complex installation requirements, DC rapid chargers are less common when you compare them with other types.
Types of Electric Car Charging Cables
Electric car charging cables are also available in various types to accommodate the charging ports found on EVs and charging points.
1. UK Three-Pin Plug
The UK three-pin plug is a standard household plug that can be used with level 1 batteries. This means they have a lower price but also have low power output and slow recharging rates for the connected car.
- Suitable for any standard 240-volt domestic power outlet
- Simple and cost less
- Approximately 4 to 5 miles per hour of recharging
- Suitable for occasional use and emergency recharging situations
- Not recommended for frequent use or long-distance trips
2. Type 1 Plug
This is a connector commonly used for level 1 and level 2 recharging.
It has five pins, including two for alternating current (AC) power, two for signal communication, and one for the ground.
- Can provide charging rates of up to 7.4 kWh
- Designed for single-phase recharging
- Maximum of 12 miles range per 30 mins recharged
- No locking mechanism when you charge your electric car
3. Type 2 Plug
The Type 2 or Mennekes plug is the UK’s standard connector for Level 2 recharging.
- Maximum range of around 75 miles every 30 minutes recharge
- More flexible, offering a wide range of network compatibility
- Compatible with both single and three-phase recharging
- Has a built-in locking mechanism when you charge an electric car
4. CHAdeMO Plug
It stands for “CHArge de MOve,” meaning “charge for moving.”
A CHAdeMO has six pins and can provide recharging power of up to 62.5 kW, allowing it to fully charge in 30-60 minutes, depending on the car connected.
- Designed for a DC Rapid charger
- An older type of cable connector for rapid charging
- Fast-charging cables commonly used in Japan
5. Combined Charging System (CCS) Plug
It is the most common fast-charging connector in the UK. The CCS plug combines the Type 2 plug and two additional DC rapid recharging pins.
- Fast-charging connector used for Level 2 and DC rapid charging
- Compatible with both AC and DC rapid charging
- Allows for a higher power rating for larger ultra-rapid charging
How to Choose the Right Electric Vehicle Charging Station
We have compiled the key factors when choosing the best recharging location:
1. Consider Your EV Model and Battery Capacity
The size of the EV battery you purchase will affect the charging time and rate.
EVs require different connectors and have varying capabilities, so choosing a charge point compatible with your car is important.
For example, a Tesla Model 3 Long Range has a 75 kWh battery that can recharge a maximum of 75 kWh.
2. Identify the Right Connectors
Charging connectors have different specifications and recharging capabilities.
Some recharging services may offer multiple connector types. However, you must still choose one with the appropriate connector compatible with your car’s battery.
3. Determine the Location and Accessibility
Consider factors such as the distance from your home or workplace, the availability of nearby amenities, and a public charging point.
Chargers can also be found in various locations. These include public parking lots, commercial buildings, and residential areas.
Additionally, some recharging services across the UK may require membership or pay-for-access — which is also now available in contactless payment or app.
BP Pulse (previously Polar) is a major public charging network in the United Kingdom, with access granted via an app or membership card.
Buying an Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Here’s a list of what you need to check to maximise your charge point savings:
1. Consider the Cost
Battery recharging services can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
The cost depends on the charging speed, connector type, and additional features such as Wi-Fi connectivity or smart capabilities.
2. Find the Right Charger That Fits Your Needs
Research the different charger options and choose one that meets your specific demand.
A charge point with a higher speed reduces the time it takes to recharge your EV. However, selecting the appropriate network type is necessary to avoid potential problems.
3. Consider Installation
You’ll have an idea of the installation costs you must pay by ensuring you have the necessary electrical connector and capacity to provide reliable power when you charge.
Some service stations may require support from a professional installer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drawing from common experiences with other users, here are some FAQs to help guide new EV charging venturers:
Can I Charge in the Middle of the Rain?
Yes, you can charge your electric car in the rain.
Electric cars’ charging is designed to be weather-resistant and safe to use in different weather conditions since there’s no internal combustion engine.
Still, be sure to observe precautions.
What Does Kilowatt Hour (kWh) Mean for Electric Cars?
Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy used to measure the electricity consumed when you charge an EV car.
The cost of charging an electric car is often measured in kWh, with charge rates depending on the EV charging point.
How Many kWh Does an Electric Car Use?
An electric car consumes around 30 and 60 kWh to travel 100 miles.
However, the kWh charge of an electric automobile is determined by various factors — including the automotive battery and model.
It may also be affected by the type of charge point used since rapid battery chargers can provide faster-recharging rates but consume more watts each use.
Electric cars are becoming a more viable and attractive option for environmentally responsible consumers due to their numerous benefits.
So, say goodbye to petrol or gas filling stations and switch to EV charging points.